Texas Wesleyan Law Review
Since Payne, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has made several attempts to address the admissibility of victim impact testimony in capital sentencing cases, but the court's decisions have only confused the situation. This Note discusses the confusion and inconsistencies of these decisions and advocates that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals permit the use of all victim impact evidence in capital murder sentencing proceedings. Part I of this Note defines victim impact evidence and summarizes the development of victim impact testimony in capital murder cases. That section also discusses the different types of victim impact testimony and the intent behind the use of such evidence. Part II analyzes the Supreme Court's attempts to determine which specific types of victim impact testimony are constitutional. That section addresses the Court's evolving standard for admissibility by focusing primarily on the Court's analysis in two significant cases: Booth v. Maryland and Payne v. Tennessee. Part III analyzes how Payne has influenced the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in the development of Texas's current position on the use of victim impact evidence in capital sentencing. Part IV discusses the current insufficient standard in Texas and the dilemmas posed by limiting the types of admissible testimony. That section focuses on special concerns involving the victim, the victim's family, the convicted murderer, the sentencing jury, and society. Part V concludes with arguments for the admission of all types of victim impact testimony, a discussion on the impact of such evidence in the sentencing process, and explores the importance of the victim's rights.
Meghan E. Miller,
Victim Impact Testimony in Texas: The Need for Reformation and Clarification,
Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.37419/TWLR.V5.I1.6